The cast and executive producer Jesse Collins sat down recently with Deadline’s Dominic Patten at an Awardsline Emmy screening series to talk about reviving the beloved R&B boy band from the 1980s, and how the miniseries was a surprise hit for the cable network.
The New Edition Story aired January 24-26 and repped BET’s highest-rated and most-watched telecast in five years — since 2012’s season 5 premiere of The Game — drawing 5.5 million total viewers for Part 1, while Part 3 pulled in 5.6 million. The New Edition Story resonated so deeply with the pop group’s die-hard fans that even Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay was tweeting up a storm about the show during the miniseries’ airing.
The multi-platinum group was responsible for such hits as “Candy Girl” and “Cool It Now” and members Brown, Ricky Bell, Michael Lamont Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant served as co-producers and consultants on the miniseries.
The media always painted Brown as having a notorious reputation, but McClain’s takeaway was “He’s like a superman. He’s the only person I know who lost his wife, got addicted to drugs, lost his daughter and he’s still going strong.”
Given Brown’s survivor spirit, McClain says about his portrayal, “I didn’t want it to look like a parody. I wanted the character to be a real person.”
Meanwhile, Elijah Kelley was trying his best to keep up Bell’s dance moves.
“Ricky comes over and whispers ‘Yo, E., I like everything you doin’, but just do it a little less corny,” says the actor, “At that point I put in my sheet for resignation. We tried to get Chris Brown to play Ricky, right?”
The New Edition Story follows the band’s rise from their humble beginnings in Boston to global stardom, weathering the highs and lows of controversy, personnel changes and the cost of fame.
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